Fragrance 101: Everything You Need to Know About Picking the Perfect Scent

by Hayley Mason

Fragrance 101: Everything You Need to Know About Picking the Perfect Scent

If the extent of your fragrance knowledge is whether you prefer a fruity scent to a floral scent, it’s time you upped your scent game.


When it comes to choosing a fragrance, I place a high premium on pretty, picking up the scent with the most eye-catching bottle design first. And even though I work in beauty, I have to admit that when I do make the occasional trip down the fragrance aisle it can be intimidating enough to make me want to just grab another Bath & Body Works body spray and run away. In order to gain some insight into the world of fragrance, I spoke with Renee Bukowski, a senior product development manager at Tru Fragrance, a leading boutique fragrance development company. She gave me the insider scoop on perfume basics and how to choose the perfect scent for this season.


Divine Caroline: Can you break down some of the lingo we always hear when looking for a perfume. What exactly are top notes, base notes, etc.?
Renee Bukowski: Unlike flowers where the taste is received all at once, fragrances evaporate and reach the nose over time. A general composition of fragrance is a fragrance pyramid, which has top, mid and base notes. Top notes are what you smell first. These are the citrus, fruity, ozonic notes. Mid, or heart notes, are the floral, spice and herbaceous notes. Base notes consist of woods, balsams and musks.


DC: How can you choose the right fragrance when you’re in a store for a limited period of time and there are so many scents to test out?
RB: When choosing a fragrance, spray the scent on a blotter card to pick up the top note or initial impression. Blotter cards are a great way to sample multiple fragrances at once. Next, you want to determine which scent you liked most and spray it on your wrist. Don’t rub your wrists together, but rather pat them lightly together and smell throughout the day. It’s important to notice the fragrance evolving from the top, mid and base notes through the day and to fall in love with the fragrance as it dries down.


DC: Where should you spray your perfume to get that great scent to last all day?
RB: Spray on your pulse points: wrists, neck and décolletage. If you want a little extra scent, spray it in your hair and the fragrance will linger as your hair moves.


DC: What notes and fragrances are going to be most popular throughout this season and into next?
RB: We follow trends across all categories very closely and macro trends for fall are focusing on notes from nature, such as honey and rose. But this rose is modernized from traditional roses. For example, Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb Rose Explosion is a rose oriental scent that combines rose and honey!


Shop Bukowski’s picks:


1. Victoria’s Secret Victoria: It’s blend of five roses unexpectedly combined with an addictive gourmand background. 2. Tom Ford Atelier d’Orient: This perfume is lavish and sensual with deep Oriental scents. 3. Calvin Klein Downtown: It’s a fruity, floral fragrance with an unexpected sweetness in the background.